Luke 4: 21-30
He came to Nazareth where he had been reared. As he always did on the Sabbath, he went to the meeting place. When he stood up to read, he was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written,
“God’s Spirit is on me; he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor, Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to set the burdened and battered free, to announce, “This is God’s year to act!”
He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the place was on him, intent. Then he started in, “You’ve just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place.”
All who were there, watching and listening, were surprised at how well he spoke. But they also said, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son, the one we’ve known since he was a youngster?”
He answered, “I suppose you’re going to quote the proverb, ‘Doctor, go heal yourself. Do here in your hometown what we heard you did in Capernaum.’ Well, let me tell you something: No prophet is ever welcomed in his hometown. Isn’t it a fact that there were many widows in Israel at the time of Elijah during that three and a half years of drought when famine devastated the land, but the only widow to whom Elijah was sent was in Sarepta in Sidon? And there were many lepers in Israel at the time of the prophet Elisha but the only one cleansed was Naaman the Syrian.”
That set everyone in the meeting place seething with anger. They threw him out, banishing him from the village, then took him to a mountain cliff at the edge of the village to throw him to his doom, but he gave them the slip and was on his way.
Some turned against Jesus, the one who spoke gracious words, or the one who spoke challenging words, and a mixture.
Jesus puts people before organised religion. He was liked and not liked. There were people who were very religious and liked him, who were the backbone of Judaism, and others who went off him when he said what they didn’t like or agree with. He started with the Scripture – but then went on to point out bits of the scripture they didn’t like to hear – about foreigners. And later they would say – sure we knew him as a kid and his family; that meant they could write off what he said.
He was inviting them to the purity of their religion. Often happens when there are new challenges in the church. What is happening in the church where the world we live in challenges old customs and beliefs about marriage, civil partnerships, divorce, and also how to welcome people to church who don’t feel they belong. All are welcome here in the love of God. We don’t give up what is essential to our church but we are brought into rethinking and sometimes to change, sometimes to stay with what is an everlasting truth.
This happens in the church and in the family. We need to be able to live in love with different points of view and different ways of life. Child not baptised, marriage not in church, gay partnerships….the people are more important. Jesus is challenging them to see everyone as important, and especially the poor. He would always do this. And they would kill him for it, because he never put organised religion before people.
The words which are at first upsetting may proved to be gracious words as they were from the mouth of the Lord.